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The (other) Gulf War syndrome

26 February 2007

What Raymundo Rivas Palacios calls “The (other) Gulf War” requires combat reporters.  Heck, here in Alpine, the first armed robbery in umteen years is the big news of the week.  Well, there are maybe some other things going on, but I don’t cover them… I’m not a combat reporter.  If I was, I wouldn’t be using my real name, just like the AP stringer (or source… I never did understand the issue) in Bagdad someone keeps harping at me about as an example of how the AP supposedly slants news from THAT war.  

A little secret — “Truth is the first casualty of war” — but sometimes the truth slips through.  It’s boldfaced in the e-mail that was forwarded to me.  It’s the U.S. appetite for narcotics… and the guns and money going south that are fuelling crime (and something I’ve written on several times) It’s not the “illegal aliens” (post coming soon). 

Those of us who are NOT combat reporters, but close enough to the “front lines” to know the embedded reporters aren’t about to use “real names” or identifying markings.  That’s security for us and the “warriors” (even if we disagree with the war aims, or think the “war on drugs” is boneheaded) — it’s not a “gag order from the cartel.” 

For what it’s worth, the person who sent me this email was not the writer, but is trustworthy.  The reporter for Tiempo de Laredo and the unnamed Mexican radio station are also respected journalists, and both very good ones.  I don’t know how the LMT slipped up and inserted the Mexican reporters’ name.  He may need a job right quick somewhere like Montreal.  Yeah, it’s that serious.  

Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 15:33:40 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Garza: I was the target; congressman
recovering at hospital in Mexico City
See El Manana version in Spanish after Laredo Morning Times article. The Spanish version is unbelievable!!For those who don’t read Spanish, the congressman tried to hitch a ride and waited for 15 minutes by the highway after he was shot three times (bullets are still in his body). And when he finally does get a ride, it is only for a few meters because the driver did not want to compromise himself. Then another woman who recognized the congressman gave him a ride about 15 or 20 meters from a clinic since he had told her that he did not want to endanger her life either. Then he was transported by plane to Mexico City. The congressman said he and his family will not return to Nuevo Laredo until security is restored.The border has always been a rough place when I was growing up in Laredo, nevertheless we could go anywhere without any problems, including across the river to Nuevo Laredo. And all of this because of the high demand for drugs by the USA. The greed is out of control and wreaking havoc on the business community. Furthermore, the San Antonio Express needs to stop quoting FORMER Mayor Betty Flores and start quoting the new mayor who is a former FBI agent and understands the seriousness of the situation. “Mistaken identity” give me a break. Denial is not a river! The congressman confirmed that they were after him.

And at least the El Manana newspaper had more sense than the Laredo Morning Times by not printing the name of the radio reporter who interviewed Congressman Garza by phone. The cartel basically put a gag order on the Mexican press by killing many reporters covering the cartel violence. I expect that <the reporter>, in Nuevo Laredo is by now on the cartel’s hit list. The kiss of death by the Laredo Morning Times.

Garza: I was the target; congressman recovering at hospital in Mexico City

02/22/2007 NUEVO LAREDO —Federal Congressman Horacio Garza Garza, interviewed on a Nuevo Laredo radio station, said Wednesday he was the intended target in a Monday shooting here that claimed the life of his driver.

Garza, reached by telephone in Mexico City by <someone respected at radio station>-FM, is recovering from bullet wounds at the ABC Hospital in the Federal District. The congressman for the state of Tamaulipas said he lamented the death of his friend and driver, Hector Morales Juarez.

The Tamaulipas lawmaker told <the reporter> that Morales Juarez was an innocent bystander and that the firearm blasts were intended for Garza.

Garza, a PRI officeholder and former municipal president of Nuevo Laredo, was in a Suburban driven by Morales Juarez and was headed for the Nuevo Laredo International Airport when they were intercepted by several vehicles. An undetermined number of armed men opened fire. Morales Juarez died at the scene from multiple bullet wounds.

Garza dismissed the actions as reprisals, adding that he recognizes that he has to face these situations.

He said he was overwhelmed by the expressed solidarity of his family, friends and general public. He said he appreciates the support of the state governor, Eugenio Hernandez Flores, the Nuevo Laredo Mayor Daniel Peña Treviño, countless senators and representatives in Congress as well as officials from different state and national governmental agencies.

Nuevo Laredo Bishop Ricardo Watty Urquidi characterized the attempt on Garza’s life as an aggression against the community.

“We pray for his wife and his family, and pray for his full recovery,” Bishop Watty said. “Like his family, we are all offended by this horrible assault on human dignity and human rights.”

The bishop called for an end to unlawful detentions, kidnappings and wanton killings, adding that these aggressions “are an attack on humanity and God.”

Garza acknowledged he is having trouble talking because of the shooting injury in the neck. He said doctors told him he has a piece of lead in the neck area.

He told the radio reporter that the Suburban’s path was blocked by vehicles as the assailants opened fire. Garza said his driver brought the van to a sudden stop and more shooting followed in the direction of the Suburban.

Garza said he felt the sting of bullets in the neck and side, but he did not see any of the assailants in the darkness of night on the road to the airport. Garza said he felt that “they were shooting to kill.”

Garza said he never gave thought to the suggestion that these people were trying to scare him.

“I regret the death of my good friend, Hector,” Garza said. “He was an innocent individual who worked hard, was a humble person. I am so sorry he died under these circumstances. He was a good man and my friend.”

Garza said he did not realize his driver was dead immediately after the shooting. He said he tried to help the man “but he was dead, covered in blood.

“Everything was covered in blood, my portfolio, my clothing, the laptop,” he said. “It happened so fast. It was a sudden reaction to take cover to save my life.”

Garza said it was a miracle that he came out of the scene alive, adding that he would continue to work hard for the betterment of Nuevo Laredo and the country.

“They are not going to scare me,” Garza said. “They were trying to kill me, not my driver. It was not a warning. They were after me, an execution.”

Garza said he hopes the shooting incident “shall be the last one for Nuevo Laredo in the on-going wave of violence that he holds the community hostage.”

“Nuevo Laredo is witnessing a deterioration of its economic and social life. We are going to continue fighting this situation.”

In recent times, Garza had called for a joint state-federal campaign to fight organized crime on the border. As secretariat for fiscal reform (Comision de Hacienda), Garza had submitted several legislative proposals in the Federal District.

“We are not going to negotiate in darkness,” he said. “Everything will be out in the open with full transparency for the benefit of the people. I hope this happens in quick order.”

He said PAN partisans aligned to President Calderón have endorsed his legislative proposals. He said his program is one of the most important challenges facing Congress this year.

©Laredo Morning Times 2007

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